Rice matches up with Atkins

Rice matches up with Atkins
December 27, 2012, 4:00 pm
Share This Post

Should the Ravens rest their starters this week?

The AFC’s offensive player of the week?

Ray Rice.

The top defensive player?

Geno Atkins.

How fitting the Pro Bowl players will face each other in the regular-season finale for both teams Sunday when the Ravens travel to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Rice had a season-high 24 carries for 107 yards in the Ravens’ 33-14 win vs. the New York Giants. He also had a nifty, 27-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown for a total of 158 yards from scrimmage.

Atkins tallied 6 tackles, 2 sacks and forced a fumble in the Bengals’ 13-10 win vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were eliminated from the playoffs.

The Bengals have qualified for the postseason for the second season in a row and it’s the first time this has happened since 1981-82.

In the season-opener for both teams, the Ravens won in a 44-13 rout on Monday Night Football.

“We still think about it,” said Atkins, a defensive tackle with 13 sacks. “A lot of the guys were just amazed at how far we have come along. Seeing that game and seeing how we were playing now is like night and day.”

Rice only had 68 yards rushing in that game, but that came on just 10 carries. He had scoring runs from 7 and 1 yards.

In the finale of the regular season a year ago in Cincinnati, Rice had 24 rushes for 191 yards and 2 TDs. He's certain the Bengals remember that, too.

“I definitely remember it. It was a great way to finish the year. I think that’s when we clinched the AFC North,” Rice said. “I’m sure that’s something that they remember. They are going to go in saying, ‘We got the Ravens again. We can’t let them come in here running all wild like they did last year.’

"They are a great football team. There’s a reason why they made the playoffs. I think they’re the most improved team in football, to be honest, because if you look at them from the time they played us (earlier in the year) to the time we’re playing them now, that’s a totally different football team. They’ve figured it out on all ends, playing great defense. On offense, they are able to run the football. That’s what good teams do.”